Comments Sought on Advocates for Elderly

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging (AoA) seeks comments on proposed regulations that would clarify the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program in nursing homes and make it uniform in all 50 states, the agency has announced.
     The proposal addresses a variety of issues, including a uniform way to resolve complaints from nursing home residents, examination of possible conflicts of interest, the appropriate role of ombudsman in resolving abuse cases, clarification of each ombudsman’s responsibilities, and training and certification.
     Nursing home residents are some of the most vulnerable members in communities due to a wide range of mental, medical and physical issues that make them reliant on caregivers for their basic needs and, in most cases, unable to advocate their interests.
     The 41-year-old Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) program was originally a “demonstration” program created to provide residents in nursing homes, assisted living and other facilities a voice for their own care, according to the AoA.
     When the Older Americans Act was reauthorized in 1992, Congress created Title VII, Allotments for Vulnerable Elder Rights Protection Activities. However, while the AoA proposed regulations under Title VII programs, which include the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, it did not finalize them,” according to the AoA in its action.
     Without federal regulations, individual states had to interpret proper implementation of the LTCO program, according to the AoA. As a result, the program and interpretations differ from state to state.
     Increased inquiries from individual states, along with an AoA compliance review of one state, led to the AoA’s proposed regulations.
     Comments are due by Aug. 13.

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